Road trip

Story Behind The Setlist: Dashboard Confessional and Thrice @ Honda Civic Tour 2004 – San Jose, CA

There are three things I remember about the Dashboard Confessional, Thrice and The Get Up Kids concert in San Jose, California in 2004:

  • Chris Carrabba stopped the show mid-song and threatened to beat up my friend
  • We missed The Get Up Kids, the band I most wanted to see, due to a speeding ticket
  • A motel bathtub full of alcohol

All other details have been filled in by friend’s memories. It’s good to have friend’s memories corroborate an event like this, because, really, it makes for a very strange story.

Where do we start?

Highway 101 north of San Luis Obispo.

I sat in the back seat of a smelly car full of high school graduates. We were 18 year olds, idyllic in our fresh angst, speeding with the radio loud, bags of Doritos strewn, gas station fountain drinks in hand — all those cliche snacks from youth I’m still waiting to outgrow — we had what seemed a never ending supply.

Socially, I was a man of many cliques. Never a big partier, a little alcohol at a friend’s house, say, but never could I stomach drunkenness or drugs. What I was was morally malleable. This meant I could make a go at any social gathering with decent success. This particular 2004 outing was unique, socially speaking, for merging three disparate friend groups. I had my party friends, my church friends, and my actual friends. I remember sitting in that backseat with the sobering and unmasking feeling that comes with your friends meeting your other very different friends.

Punk, partier, and Christian — on our way in a caravan to San Jose. Ahead of us lay three rooms in a louche motel with alcohol, cigarettes and concert tickets to the 2004 Honda Civic Tour. (more…)

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Carrs in the car across the USA: Tornados, Volcanos and Floods

My wife and I just Prius’d acrossed the USA. Yes. I’m using Prius as a verb. After two successful cross-country trips (overloaded and overstuffed, might I add), I’m allowed to brag about my Toyota. Aren’t I?

Nine days, six stops. And affordable gasoline! Guess how much gas we spent?

I’m getting ahead of myself.

Our most recent trip was actually a move: Rochester, New York to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho (or the close by Spokane, Washington, where I’ll be working).

That’s a bunch of map

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Rochester -> Louisville -> Nashville -> Memphis -> Kansas City -> Denver -> Yellowstone -> Ceour d’Alene

It’s a crazy mess of a road trip. I know. Here was the thought process:

Kansas City and Denver had family. Admittedly, Nashville was completely out of the way, but we really wanted to see it. And if we timed it just right, we could lock down two nights in Yellowstone. Louisville and Memphis were convenient stops in between.

Most nights we would camp, others we’d stay with family.

Little did we know what we’d discover along the way; little would we see out of our blind spots.

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A quick note on the photos: We shot hundreds, some with our new Cannon Rebel T5, others with our iPhones. My wife took all the good pictures. I took all the weird, squirrelly ones. Also, since there are so many, and we just go home, please excuse the lack of editing. 

Okay, so, you ready? Me neither. Let’s go! (more…)

Taming the Travel Tongue: A Wanderlust Warning

Ahhh summer—that magical time when anything is possible and no destination is too far. It’s a time when plans change suddenly, and personal routines wave “bye bye”. We hit the road and chart a course to Getmeouttahere, in Somewherelse County, USA, leaving behind—in a crooked rearview mirror—our favorite hometown we love to hate.

Of course, when we come back, as we always do, we haul our pictures and magnets and receipts and stories and we tell and show everyone because we’re travelers, dammit. It’s what we’re meant to do. Facebook and Instagram, for instance, were practically built for us.

Friends, coworkers, and cashiers ask us about the trip, and then it happens: our eyes glow red and we latch on to them like a stamp on a postcard: “It all started at 5:15am on Friday morning. The day lie still before us, though we knew the journey would be treacherous!”

So it was good?

But we don’t stop there. No, instead, impersonating Ted Mosby, we recite How I Met My Roadtrip and the words bleed like an artery.

Movers and Shakers

I find that when someone asks about our trip that they are usually just being polite. We need to set limits and remember them. (Limits, I know, not the traveler’s favorite subject). We must revisit the thin line between sharing and bragging and learn how to better walk it. Because, really, everyone hates a bragger. Even braggers hate other braggers.

(more…)

Weekend (Ultimate) Warriors: Austin, TX

All of our previous trips have been via car, but Austin, TX is way too far to drive from Rochester, NY. This one deserved a couple plane tickets. We hopped on a plane Friday afternoon and arrived in Austin by midnight. It was still 100 degrees at night, by the way.

Austin, TX

Why go to Austin? A very special family reunion, that’s why. My family! I don’t usually go to these things. I’ve never been very close to my family. And honestly, being caged up with a bunch of them in a foreign area sounds less like a vacation and more like a nightmare, or at least a plot proposal for a new sequel in the Saw movie franchise.

But as it turns out, not all of my family is as crazy as the ones who raised me. More on that later.

Oh my god, the food. When I returned from Austin, all I wanted to talk about was the food. Still, all I want to talk about is the food. That Tex Mex is something else. Ughhh, I can’t find the words. Instead, I’ll just make stomach noises: euuuuuoooooo ggaaaraaahhhh vrrrruuuuuuuu euuhhooahhh.

Got it? Yeah, that’s how great it was. Here’s a place (Joe’s Mexican Bakery) we randomly found, right off the highway. The parking lot was bustling which we felt was as good a sign as any. (more…)

Weekend (Ultimate) Warriors: New Hampshire & Maine

Originally, we had decided to cancel this road trip. See, we’ve been traveling like bandits this summer, and though a budget has kept us in line, we still couldn’t justify another weekend getaway on our current funds.

But then an unknown monster broke into our apartment, and we said, “Hey, now’s as good a time as any to get out of town.” Sometimes you just need to leave.

There was no way we could swing Boston, the original destination, on our budget. So we had to think of somewhere new and cheaper. Megan was craving the ocean, and I didn’t blame her. Neither of us had ever seen an Atlantic beach town before. Ocean towns are generally cheap, since beaches are free (usually). We also decided to save on hotels and sleep in the car, i.e., the Walmart Parking Lot Express.

New Hampshire and Maine were both on my East Coast bucket-list, Maine especially (Stephen King fan, ova heer!). New Hampshire was intriguing because their state motto is “Live Free or Die,” so… As it turned out, New Hampshire has a small sliver of ocean-front property, just below Maine. Perfect.

Massachusetts

While we didn’t necessarily “do” anything in Massachusetts, we did drive through the entire the state. This was exciting for me because I have fantasized about visiting Boston for years. My California friends and I used to host “Boston Night” every Tuesday at my old apartment; we would watch a Boston based movie, eat Boston Baked Beans, and swear a lot. Just being in the state was enthralling. My big purchase? A slice of pizza and soda at a rest-stop. Go Sox!

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New Hampshire

Besides the motto, we didn’t know anything about the state. We Googled “Walmarts near coastal New Hampshire” and the results returned a town named Portsmouth. (more…)

Weekend (Ultimate) Warriors: Toronto, Canada

Oh my sweet. I sure do love Canada. You know, for a neighboring country to the north, we sure lucked out. They could’ve been jerks. Maybe they would’ve thought maple syrup was dumb; maybe they would’ve specialized primarily in stick figures. I don’t know, I’m spitballing. Luckily, Canadians are incredible.

Megan and I have a rich history with Canada. We honeymooned in Vancouver and White Rock, and we find the memories fond. The vibrant and varying terrain. The food. The traffic ticket mailed to us three weeks later. Well, that wasn’t so great. But that’s another story for another time.

SIDE NOTE: We still don’t know who was driving during the red light ticket. But let’s just say it wasn’t me.

After we moved to Rochester, I looked up a map of the Upstate area and discovered we lived right underneath Toronto, opposite Lake Ontario. Pretty neat. We initially didn’t have time nor the funds to visit. Thankfully, we finally made the time, if only 36 hours.

So, without further adieu, here’s the next edition of Weekend (Ultimate) Warriors: Toronto.

Touronto

Without traffic, Toronto is about 2.5 hours from Rochester. After passing through Niagara Falls, we headed onto a highway called “Queen Elizabeth Way,” which is about as Canadian a highway name as I could’ve hoped for.

While driving on the Queen E, after shutting off our cell phone data, we remembered our Garmin GPS is a hyper-patriotic robot who refuses to work outside the States. Further, we forgot to withdraw cash, and we were also without tourist maps and city books. After I suffered a thirty-second mini-freakout in my head, chest, and elbows, I discovered the predicament quite refreshing! Unlike New York City, Cleveland, Ithaca, and anywhere in Rochester (where we use Yelp and mobile apps to tell us how to breathe), Megan and I had to rely on our flesh-harddrives (our brains) and our good ol’ fashioned sense of direction to get us around town. Thankfully, Toronto is one of the best laid-out metropolitan cities I’ve ever explored. (more…)